Chandigarh, Friday, August 27, 1999
Producers seek quality cinema halls
By S.C. Dhall
PRODUCERS and distributors of films have started evaluating the standard and quality of cinema houses countrywide well in advance of releasing a new film.
paintings of MP
Producers seek quality cinema
PRODUCERS and distributors of films have started evaluating the standard and quality of cinema houses countrywide well in advance of releasing a new film.
Producers are serious that their production is exhibited in better-equipped and run movie halls. This is borne out by its latest exercise. They have been sending their marketing people to assess the standard of theatres as their focus is on sound projection systems, screening, seating facilities and overall maintenance of halls. It is understood that Rajshree Pictures has decided to go for the best available hall in different localities in towns/cities. The audiences feel like returning to watch a second time if the standard of the hall is good.
The producers are likely to release films not on the basis of the quality of halls alone, but also on the class of cities.
Meanwhile, it has been noticed that no attention is paid by film makers towards improving the technique, but no time is lost in coping violence and sex scenes portrayed in Western films.
Monetary profits induce them to bid goodbye to art and sacrifice moral and social health. Even after films have passed the Censors, some films still have obscene and violent scenes. It goes to show that the Censor Board is slack in the discharge of its duties. This situation needs an immediate remedial action by way of containing the evil influence of the present trends in Indian cinema.
It has also been noticed many times that after making hefty profits, film makers declare that their films have flopped, only to evade tax. In spite of successive flops, these film makers are able to make high-budget films, that too in foreign countries. This shows that they duping the government with false facts and figures. The government should tackle the problem seriously.
The working group set up by the Indian Banks Association, to work out norms for bank finance to the film industry, has submitted its final recommendations to the Government of India.
With an industry status being conferred on the film-making business, producers have started approaching banks for loans to finance their projects.
Film stars may henceforth be asked to take part of their remuneration at the time of signing a film while the rest would be paid to them after the release, the amount depending on the success or failure of the film.
According to the guidelines being evolved by the working group, this clause will ensure at least a lesser loss for the producers concerned. The banks too will stand a better chance in the realisation of interest on their loans.
BOLD, unconventional, romantic, turbulent, thought-provoking.... Chandigarh stage has rarely witnessed such a play in view of its presentation and complexity of interpretation. Directed by Pahlad Aggarwal under the banner of Abhinet and enacted at Tagore Theatre recently, Nand Kishore Acharyas Kimidam Yaksham (What is this, Yaksh?) evoked feelings ranging from repulsion to eroticism to transcendence into spiritualism. As one viewer commented, The play shook me from within as much as Shekhar Kapurs Bandit Queen did, but my wife refused to discuss it with me when we came out of the hall.
Lust, exploitation and incest dominate the plot, which revolves around a professor, who, having been brought up and educated by a childless couple, returns home after 20 years of self-exile, to find an answer to the question, Who is my father?, an agony that has not let him sleep properly even for one night. His mother is no longer alive, but before her death in abject misery she had given birth to a deaf and dumb daughter, whose paternity is also under cloud. The only surviving link between the past and the present is professors dhai Ma (foster-mother) who has to repeatedly face a volley of searching questions from him about his father.
Flashbacks unfold the past. The professor ran away from home in childhood because he could not confront the community about his paternity when his mother failed to provide a satisfactory answer. His young unwed mother underwent physical relationship with her lover who was instantly killed by her sculptor father and the daughter was raped by the father in rage.
Parallel to the search for the mystery of his paternity runs the professors research into the age-old secrets of the ruins of the village temple. The dark alleys of the dilapidated temple provide conducive ambience to the professor himself and his half-sister to fall a prey to the forbidden fruit and the outcome is the birth of a deaf, dumb and blind girl. Despite repeated warnings by the foster-mother, the professor is fatally bitten by a snake and his place is taken by a young researcher who is also unaware of his parentage. Thus, the incest down the generations from the mythical past to the present is the leitmotif of the play.
At the manifest level, the play raises some uncomfortable questions. However, latently the writer has woven into the plot some ubiquitous allegories the ruins of the temple symbolising our past; the snake signifying mans lust; the birth of deaf, dumb and blind offspring pointing to the sinister consequences of this instinct; the foster- mother representing the perennial arrow of time and the professor and his young follower symbolising mans endless search for his identity.
About the theme of the play, the director avers: Man is born with infinite possibilities. He can reach the skies using his natural powers, but keeps on crawling on the earth. He remains hooked to his self-created web...and this vicious circle goes on and on.... Aggarwal has only partly succeeded in bringing out this theme distinctly, but credit goes to him for his subtle and aesthetic handling of the sensitive scenes of love and rape.
The female characters
overshadowed their male counterparts in expressing their
emotions and turmoil. Raj Sharma in the triple role of
the young girl, mother, daughter, should go down in the
history of Chandigarh theatre as one of the finest
THIS is a story about an old story. But, the old story first. I heard it, years ago, from Chandulal Raina, among the last descendants of the celebrated 18th century Pahari painter, Nainsukh of Guler. Since then, it has been a part of ones awareness; one has published it, woven it into ones lectures at countless places. For its intrinsic charm apart, it somehow captures, magically, the ambience of those times in which retained painters worked for royal patrons, deities were invoked before any work was begun, and a certain innocence prevailed.
A story is a story but, even at an academic level, this one tells one so much of value; among other things, about the situation of the tradition painter, the nature of portraiture as understood once, the relationship between the painter and his ishta deity.
Long ago, the story went, a painter one of Chandulals ancestors was asked by his patron, a Raja, to make a portrait of his chief queen who was celebrated for her beauty. The Rani being in purdah, however, the portrait had to be based upon imagination. With great assiduity, and after having meditated upon Devi, the great goddess, whose devotee he was, the painter went about his assigned task.
Visualising the Rani, who was famed for her beauty, as a Padmini type of woman, he incorporated in the idealised portrait all the marks that classical descriptions of feminine beauty speak of. The portrait was nearly finished when, as the painter was lifting his brush from the sheet, a tiny dot of black pigment fell upon the thigh of the Rani. The dot was truly small, and there was little time left, since the portrait was to be presented to the Raja the following day; the painter decided therefore to leave it untouched.
At the court, the Raja, when presented with the portrait, was delighted by it and showed it around, his confidants and counsellors praising it, till his own eye landed upon that tiny black dot which looked identical to the mole that the Rani, in real life, had exactly at the same spot on her thigh. His suspicion aroused, thoughts of an illicit connection between the painter and his Rani began coursing through the Rajas head. How else, he thought, could the painter have placed the mole on her thigh at the exact spot in his portrait of her? The more he thought about the matter, the more he was troubled.
Finally, flying into a rage, he ordered that the painter be seized and thrown into prison. There the innocent painter languished for a few days; and then, one night, the Devi appeared to the Raja in his dream, and chastised him for treating a great devotee of hers, the painter, thus. He was entirely innocent, the Devi told the Raja, adding that, she being the one who always guided the painters hand, it was she who was sitting in the tip of his brush, and she who had made that black dot fall upon the Ranis thigh. Only to ensure that the portrait remained true to the Ranis appearance. Having said this, the Devi disappeared.
Convinced by all that he had seen and heard in his dream, and now deeply repentant, the Raja ordered in the morning that the painter be released. Not only was the Devis devotee thus exonerated: he was sent back to his home, loaded with honours and rewards.
Now, the story about the story. As I worked in the field, meeting painters who came from traditional old families, and interviewing old men steeped in the lore of the hills, I was to discover that the story of the painter and the Ranis mole was not peculiar to Chandulals family. I heard much the same tale, several times over, in different parts of the hills. In fact, every painter who narrated it, said it concerned an ancestor of his! This did not diminish the story in my eyes; it only told me something about how myths, even recent myths, become layered and travel in our land, come to occupy a place in the beliefs of different people.
When, later, after more reading, I gathered that the story of the queens mole appeared, with some variations, in several old texts, including an 8th century Jaina folk tale, the 13th century Mrigavaticharitra, Somadevas Sanskrit classic, the Kathasaritasagara, and the much later, Katharatnakara, I was not surprised. I was, in fact, almost prepared for it.
What I was not prepared for, however, was to chance several years later upon a painting, obviously a leaf from a manuscript, which seemed to illustrate much the same story. This painting, acquired by the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, from some gallery sale in Vienna, shows, in the left half, a king seated with a man holding a brush over a painting in his hand; in the right half is seen another man a painter, judging from the cloth-basta tucked under his arm walking out of the palace courtyard.
The purport of the picture becomes clear only with reference to this story, or a version of it. But one has to register the fact that is the first time, ever, that one is seeing it rendered in a painting, and that, years and years after one had heard it orally in the field. Interestingly, the four lines of text, that appear above and below the illustration, are in Hindi verse, but written in Gurmukhi characters, strongly suggestive of a Punjab origin. Obviously, nothing remains confined within barriers.
There seem to be still
more surprises. Ananda Coomaraswamy, who wrote a long
time ago on the texts in which the story of the
queens mole occurs, also put in an intriguing
footnote. The version of the story in the
Kathasaritasagara, he wrote, is
curiously like the story of Casanovas
detection of Esthers mole, in his Memoris.
But I have not got down to reading Casanovas
Rock paintings of MP
INGRAINED with ingenuity and factual expression, the traditional paintings of Madhya Pradesh have a special place of importance in the field of artistic creations and skills.
Marked with spontaneity, freedom, beauty of line and realism, the history of painting especially in the Malwa region of the state dates back to the period when early man was in the stage of food gathering. This has been amply justified by the predominance of rock paintings in the rock shelters of the luxuriant forested Sandstone Hills which served as a habitat for early man.
The rock paintings are seen sprawling across Mandsaur to Vidisha, besides those from Panchmarhi and Hoshangabad. The pigments used are red, black, green, white and yellow. These were applied with the help of fingers, chewed sticks or brushes made of squirrel hair. No animal fat appears to have been added to the paint as was done in contemporary Europe.
The thickly forested Hill of Bhimbetka contains a series of tall and massive rocks giving a semblance of a huge fort from distance. The rock paintings here decipher a unique blend of continuity, simplicity and agility.
Amongst the geometric patterns most common in the rock paintings are circles, rhombuses, rectangles, squares, triangles, criss-cross, simple and wavy bands, dots and loops. The common animals manifested are bulls with or without hump and U or V shaped horns, antelopes, horned deer, horses, monkeys, snakes, lizards and others. The peacock appears to be a favourite subject amongst the birds. Human figures are usually shown standing either with uplifted hands or hands placed on the hips. Religious symbols like the sun, swastika and palm are notable features.
The only survivals from art traditions of the Gupta period from the state are the wall paintings at Bagh. The colours are simple and the carnations are modelled in different gradations of red, brown and black. The Bagh paintings are assignable to a long period between the 7th and the 11th century AD.
The central Indian chaloclithic levels from the excavated sites, mostly from Malwa, have yielded different types of wares embellished with geometric, floral, animal, human and other miscellaneous motifs.
The pottery with black paintings on red surface has been called Malwa ware, which represents a refined and elegant taste of the painters.
Malwa artists preferred a fluid grouping in place of tight geometrical compositions. Although one copy of the Rasik Priya and one of the Bhagwad purana were executed, their chief subjects were the ragas and the raginis (the 36 modes of Indian music), nayaks and nayikas (the ideal lovers) and barahmasaa (the 12 months).
With the exit of Baz
Bahadur, the Malwa paintings attained an indigenous
character even when the Rajput and other schools were
gradually being influenced by the Mughal school. By the
close of the 17th century, when the Mughal rule was well
established in the country, the signs of change in the
Malwa paintings were discernible. Multichrome pattern
became popular and the compositions became more crowded.
FIVE eminent personalities in the field of arts in Orissa will receive this years Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra Award for their contribution in their respective field.
Those who will be felicitated for their contribution include Guru Pankaj Charan Das (Odissi dance), Kashinath Pujapanda (Odissi music), Durlav Charan Singh (Oriya theatre) and Manimala Devi (Oriya cinema).
The award instituted by Srijan, the Odissi nrityabhasa, carries a cash reward of Rs 10,000 and a citation, and will be presented at a special function in Bhubaneswar on September 5.
Srijan, Director, Ratikanta Mahapatra, told newsmen at Bhubaneswar yesterday that the awards were meant to generate a fellow feeling amongst the performing artistes in the state.
He said while the award
in the field of dance and music would be presented by
living legend of kathak Pandit Birju Maharaj, noted cine
actress Hema Malini would give away the awards in the
field of theatre and cinema. UNI